Bethel & Kusilvak
Census Areas
HISTORY

Bethel, at its original location, was a Yup'ik village called Mumtrekhlogamute, meaning "Smokehouse People," after the nearby fish smokehouse. It was an Alaska Commercial Company trading post during the late 1800s. It had a population of 41 people in the 1880 U.S. Census. The Moravian Church established a mission in the area in 1885, under the leadership of Rev. John Henry Kilbuck, Jr. Kilbuck learned Yup'ik, which greatly enhanced his effectiveness as a missionary. Missionaries moved Bethel from Mamterillermiut to its present location on the west side of the Kuskokwim River. A United States Post Office was opened in 1905.

Alaska Natives in this area also have a long Christian history, in part from Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Moravian influence. As in many Alaskan villages, Christian tradition has become interwoven with its cultural history.

On February 19, 1997, a school shooting attracted widespread media attention to Bethel when 16-year-old Evan Ramsey, a student at Bethel Regional High School, shot and killed his principal and one student and wounded two others, for which he later received a 198-year prison sentence.

Kusilvak Census Area was formerly known as Wade Hampton Census Area. The new name appropriately reflects and respects the culture and history of Alaska. Kusilvak is a Yup'ik name meaning "the high one." Kusilvak Mountain is the higest mountain in the area, located between Scammon Bay and Mountain Village.

 
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Bethel & Kusilvak Census Areas
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